Choosing Sides — What Herb Thinks

Today’s the day chief weapons inspector Hans Blix is to deliver his report on Iraq to the UN Security Council. And, it’s expected Blix’s report will accomplish nothing new — it won’t change the minds of the permanent members of the Security Council who want an Iraqi war, and it won’t change the minds of the members who don’t want war.

Those permanent members who want war are the US and Britain. Those who oppose the war are France, Russia and China.

Why won’t Blix’s report make any difference? Because, for some of these permanent members of the Security Council I suspect the real issues that concern them remain unspoken. In other words, I believe there’s something about an American occupation of Iraq that concerns these nations even more than Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction.

It was expected that Russia and China would be somewhat reluctant to support American and British interests in the Mediterranean. And, a little French reluctance was also expected. But, what wasn’t expected was outright French opposition — opposition so strong, in fact, it encouraged Russia and China to take the same stand.

Here’s my point: When France decided to take a stand against an Iraqi war, France not only decided to do lasting damage to three important international organizations — the United Nations, NATO and the European Union — France also signaled her decision to side with the world’s anti-American forces.

What kind of lasting damage will it do to the UN, NATO and the EU? It will force the member nations of the three organizations to choose sides. And, that’s what we’re now seeing.

For example, the EU is going to have what it calls an “extraordinary summit” next Monday. At this meeting they say the 15 EU nations will be looking for common ground on the Iraqi issue. But, in truth, I believe these EU heads will be choosing sides between American and anti-American world forces.

In my last commentary, I compared what’s going on in the EU over the Iraqi issue to a kindergarten class with nobody in charge. I said, “Britain, Spain, Italy and a few of the bigger, newer students are grouping together and attempting to become a gang. France, Germany and Belgium are standing together on the teacher’s desk refusing to come down.”

According to today’s reports, the chaos in the EU continues and, unless something new happens, things aren’t looking good for Monday’s extraordinary summit.

However, something new may happen. Enter the EU’s high representative, Javier Solana, and the UN’s Kofi Annan. It appears these two powerful players will both be attending that important meeting of EU heads next Monday.

The way I see Solana in this out-of-control kindergarten class — he’s like the school’s student body president. He may not have enough power to stop what’s happening in the EU, but he has enough to influence the direction.

And, it looks like Solana is also shrewd enough to know he needs some reinforcement. So, he’s bringing with him to Monday’s meeting his biggest friend, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Read about it here.

As I write, I’m listening to the Blix report on television. And, so are all the nations of the world. Soon, they’ll be choosing sides.

It’s a little scary.

— Herb Peters